Councillors voice concern about cuts to Canal & River Trust

The leader of the council will be writing to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the wake of the announcement that government will be cutting funding to the Canal & River Trust.

Published: Wednesday, 19th July 2023

Swan on canal with barges

At a meeting of Cherwell District Council on Monday 17 July, Councillor Barry Wood announced that he will be raising concerns over what this loss of funding would mean for the future of the Oxford Canal, which passes through both Banbury and Kidlington.

Council officers have been working in various ways to seek funding for improvements to the canal infrastructure. These efforts include bids to government for funding and the use of developer contributions, which are monies provided by housing developers under legal agreements linked to their planning permissions.

The council can confirm that on Monday it released £160,000 of developer contributions to the Canal & River Trust to help protect local waterways infrastructure.

Councillor Barry Wood, Leader of Cherwell District Council, said: “The recent loss of fish in Banbury following storms caused a great deal of public concern and was a stark reminder of the importance of protecting the Oxford Canal.

“The council is committed to regenerating the canal side area of Banbury and while we are not the authority in charge of waterways, we recognise that the canal is a key asset for the life of Banbury and Kidlington and we of course wish to see the funding that supports the Canal & River Trust protected.

“In addition to my letter to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, officers will be continuing to work to find other ways that the council can support the Trust in the interests of the local environment, economy, and biodiversity.”

Cllr Wood was responding to a question from Councillor Matt Hodgson, ward member for Banbury Cross and Neithrop.

The Canal & River Trust has warned that the proposed funding cut will amount to a nationwide £300m reduction in grant funding as the costs of maintaining historic canals are increasing, due to the growing impact of climate change, with more periods of drought and extreme storm events taking their toll on ageing 250-year-old infrastructure.

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